Perri Klass, M.D., National Medical Director of Reach Out and Read, cited a study co-authored by alumnus John S. Hutton, M.D. '90 that recently was published in the journal, Pediatrics. The study concluded that reading to preschool-aged children can activate areas of the brain—specifically, a region called the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex, which is "a watershed region, all about multisensory integration, integrating sound and then visual stimulation," according to Hutton. This portion of the brain, located in the left hemisphere, is also active when older children read.
These findings have shed light on the importance of reading to children and exposing them to stories before they even have the ability to read. The study also found that children who regularly were read to displayed more activity in areas of the brain related to visual association, even though they were not viewing any pictures.
Hutton is a pediatrician and clinical research fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and owner of Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore.